On Tuesday, the South Africa’s top court handed former President Jacob Zuma, a 15 month jail term for contempt of court following his refusal to appear before graft investigators.
Sisi Khampepe, the Judge, said that the Constitutional Court could do nothing but conclude that Mr Zuma was guilty of the crime of contempt of court.
President Jacob Zuma, is 79 years old, and has been accused of enabling the plunder of state coffers during his nearly nine year stay in office.
Sisi Khampepe said that the recalcitrance and defiance was unlawful and would be punished.
The judge declared that she was left with no option but to commit Mr Zuma to imprisonment, with the hope that doing so would send an unequivocal message that the rule of law and the administration of justice prevailed.
She also said that the majority judgement orders an unsuspended sentence of imprisonment for a period of 15 months, and ordered Zuma to hand himself over within five days. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo headed the commission of inquiry.
The panel had been set up by Zuma himself under the pressure over mounting scandals, shortly before he had been ousted in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC). However he only testified once in July 2019 before staging a walkout days after and accusing the commission’s Zondo of bias.
Zuma ignored several invitations to reappear, citing the medical reasons and preparations for another corruption trial. He then again presented himself briefly in November but left before questioning and Zondo had asked to ask the Constitutional Court to intervene.
However, Zuma has been separately facing 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to a 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military gear from five European arm firms for a 30 billion rand being equivalent to almost $5 billion.
Zuma was president Thabo Mbeki’s deputy when the purchase was made, and he has been accused of accepting bribes totaling four million rand from one of the firms, i.e. French defence giant Thales.